Motorcycles bring a lot of enthusiasm to the riders because they make life easy and fun allowing you to access any type of road and get past traffic with ease. However, as days go by, many people tend to forget their maintenance guidelines neglecting the bike which drastically shortens its life. Maintaining a motorcycle is not as complicated as you may think, your buyer`s manual has all the details you need to make your motorcycle last longer. They are simple tasks that take just a few minutes but they allow your motorcycle to give you lifetime service. Whichever bike you have, your maintenance process will just revolve around these 12 simple tips.
1. Read and Stick to Your Manual Guidelines
That simple manual is actually a gold mine with every detail on how to get the most from each component of your motorcycle. Any other information you get online or from shop owners will be general and sometimes incompatible with your motorcycle. The manual will give you the details on how to break in your ride at each stage of mileage as well as the type of oil and fuel best suited for your engine. Maintenance practices for the engine and moving parts are also included allowing you to perform most of the simple tasks in this guide on your own.
It is largely agreeable to say that your owner`s manual is the benchmark of everything that happens to your motorcycle throughout its lifetime. Most people assume their manual especially if they have owned a motorbike before but every motorcycle is designed uniquely which is why the engineers that compiled your maintenance and use guidelines in the manual are the best resource for extending the life of your ride. You should refer to it if you need to replace or include anything for perfect compatibility.
2. Always Keep the Air Filter Clean
The performance of your engine depends on the amount of clean air your filter allows to combine with the engine which is why you should never neglect it. This small component gets clogged with dirt and grease if left for long. It is a very delicate component because, in the winter, it clogs up with the snow delivering very thin air to the engine. In the summer, dust and pebbles also clog in and in some cases, find their way into your engine interfering with the gears and other moving parts.
This is why you should check, clean and oil it properly after riding on a dirt road. Your user manual has details on how frequently you should replace the air filter which you should adhere to unless you notice a defect that causes it to malfunction. Cleaning the air filter allows it to serve you effectively for longer keeping your engine at peak performance.
3. Keep Your Tires in Good Shape
Tires determine the grip of your motorcycle on the road and its ability to bear your weight which is why they need attention. Keeping your tires at optimum pressure and with robust threads reduces the lag on the engine allowing it to run smoothly. Pressure should be checked before every ride while the tires are cool and after the ride. You should also change pressure depending on the weather as directed by your manual to reduce the lag on your engine. If you notice a lag on the tires, it may be because of holes, sometimes too tiny to be seen.
Tire maintenance also means keeping the hub clean and oiled as well as tightening the spokes after a week or so of constant riding because they shake and weaken affecting the performance of your tires. Most regular use motorcycles need a thread of at least 0.07 inches below which you should replace. While this may be hard to determine, you can always look out for the loss of grip and quick loss of pressure which signals that your tire should be replaced. It is also wise to replace tires in sets for the best service and comfortable rides.
4. Grease Your Bearings Regularly
Lubrication is important for keeping all the moving parts of your motorbike running smoothly and the bearings bear most of this weight. Regular greasing is good but not all you need, by the 15,000th mile, you need to be on the lookout for worn out bearings to be replaced. Most motorcycles nowadays come with closed bearing boxes which are maintenance free but your tire and steering stem bearings are very much visible and in need of regular greasing and replacement.
When bearings start wearing, you will feel a tightness when turning your handlebars or regular knocking noise in your wheels when riding. When you hear the bearings moving around in the hub and front axle when your motorcycle is raised on a stand, then it is a sign that some or all of the bearings are worn out and in need a replacement.
5. Take Good Care of Your Chain
The chain gets overheated and wears out very fast if it is not properly lubricated and adjusted. As you ride your motorcycle, the chain tightens and loosens at different times and it may cause it to tighten excessively and sometimes break while in motion which can be very dangerous. Before greasing your chain, you need to clean it using paraffin. You can apply it using a soft cloth to remove all the dust and old lubricant to keep it clean.
Water may cause your chain links to rust and wear out faster shortening your motorcycle`s life. It is advisable to clean your chain after every ride in a dusty area or a week of constant riding. You also need to ensure that there is some play on your chain. If you notice worn links or regular screeching even after greasing, then it is safe to replace the chain.
6. Keep Your Battery in Good Shape
Most people don`t give a look at the battery until they have difficulty starting their motorcycle which may be bad for your motorcycle. The most important thing to look for is rust or dust on the terminals which accumulate over time interfering with the connection. You should clean the terminals and test them for voltage to ensure they are working properly. It is also important to refill the battery with distilled water. If there are any leaks on the battery, then it is time to replace it because riding with a leaking battery is bad for the rest of your ride including the engine.
To keep the battery alive, you should always ensure it is charged especially when putting the motorcycle in storage for a long time.
7. Change the Engine Oil Regularly
All the gears and the moving parts in your engine rely on the engine oil to prevent them from rubbing against each other. The engine wears out the oil faster depending on the distance you ride and the weather which is why you should change it more regularly in the summer. As the oil wears out, its ability to lubricate the parts fade leaving your gears naked and exposed. This is why you need to check your engine oil filter before and after every ride and change it as regularly as possible.
It is safe to replace the engine oil every 5000 miles when doing regular road rides and 3000 miles when riding frequently in the summer. Renewing the oil regularly allows the engine to run smoothly and quietly giving it a longer life and a comfortable ride for you.
8. Perform Regular Engine Service and Maintenance
Maintaining the engine does not mean taking it apart, it is actually easier than you think. Keeping your engine in good shape starts with cleaning your carburetor after every 1000 miles. You should also allow the engine to rest and cool after long distances of riding to prevent chocking out the gears. You also need to keep an eye on the choke for any signs of damage and replace it immediately if it is. Spark plugs may also need regular adjustment after a few 500 to 1000 miles depending on the directions in your owner`s manual.
9. Service Your Motorcycle Regularly
Being a DIYer is good because it saves you money and allows you to give your motorcycle the best service according to your knowledge. It is, however, dangerous to assume that you can handle every little problem on the motorcycle which is why you need to take it for checking by an expert. Offroad riders should do this as frequently as every week. However, if you use your motorcycle for regular commuting on the tarmac, monthly servicing should be enough. You should also avoid riding your bike if you notice any mechanical problem to prevent further damage.
10. Clean It Regularly
Cleaning your motorcycle regularly keeps it looking new and also gives it a longer life than you could imagine. Accumulated mud and dust make it harder for many parts of your bike to work properly. Dirt also attracts moisture causing rusting on metallic parts which reduces a bike`s life if it is not washed regularly. It is important to cover sensitive electrical components with waterproof material to avoid ruining your motorcycle`s electric system. You should use a soft cloth to remove dirt from the tight sections of the bike to ensure that all residual dirt is removed. While washing, it is also necessary to check the bolts and loose nuts on the whole bike.
11. Check the Forks and Fork Oil
Most steering failures on a motorcycle start with the forks. Reduced spring suspension and leaking fork oil can mess up your whole steering system. After every trip, it is wise to look at the fork to ensure that no oil is leaking down into your front axle. A close examination of the springs for rust is also necessary. You should seal any leaks using rubber or soft glue to prevent interfering with the fork`s suspension. It is also important to adjust your forks to a height most comfortable for you to prevent any strain while riding.
12. Do Regular Brake Maintenance
The brakes are a key safety too on the motorcycle which is why they should never be neglected. It is important to adjust brake pads to the right distance that doesn`t make them too tight or too loose, your user manual will have details on this. You can also adjust and test the pads to a gap most comfortable for you. If you hear a screeching noise while applying the brakes, it may be time to get new brake fluid. The standard for brake fluids is generally uniform as long as it is DOT approved. If the brake pads are worn out, it is advisable to replace the whole set for the best performance.
Motorcycles are very versatile because they can ride into any weather and on any type of road. Whether you use your motorcycle for sport or commuting, you have every reason to maintain it properly. Giving your motorcycle the proper attention it needs allows it to give you the long service worth your investment. You also retain a higher resale value if your motorcycle stays in good shape even after years of use. Most of these maintenance practices can be done at home at no additional cost but their benefits are tremendous for both your and your motorcycle. These tips are meant to keep your ride in good condition allowing you to ride safely and comfortably.